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Likening her quintet to the elements, drummer Anne Paceo is set for her India tour

All too often drummers don’t receive as much attention as other musicians, tucked away in the back, beating out the backbone of the music. But not so with Anne Paceo, a French drummer and composer who, at the age of 30, has played in 36 countries worldwide as the leader of her own bands—the jazz trio, Triphase, and the quintet, Yôkai. Apart from that, she has also played with world-leading performers including Sweden’s Norrbotten Big Band and Holland’s Mike del Ferro. In India for the first time with her quintet, at the invitation of the Alliance Française, Paceo will be performing in the city, followed by Chandigarh and Delhi. With her are fellow French musicians Antonin-Tri Hoang on alto sax and bass clarinet, Leonardo Montana on piano, Pierre Perchaud on guitar and Stephane Kerecki on double bass.

Coming together
Paceo started playing the drums when she was nine years old, and her first foray into the jazz world came at the age of 12, when she participated in the Children for Jazz festival, which takes place in the southern French Alps. “I started music with rock and then I tur-ned to jazz,” says Paceo. “I love jazz because it’s mu-sic where you can be completely free when you know the codes of the music,” she explains. The Yôkai quintet came together when Paceo felt that it would be interesting for her to experiment with a group that contained more instruments. “I knew all the musicians from the French jazz scene and thought they would sound great together,” she tells us. “For me, we are like the five elements—Leonardo is fire, Pierre is water, Stephane is the earth, Antonin is the wind and, maybe, I would be the sky,” she elaborates.

Signature sound
Renowned for their distinct style and sound, Yôkai’s music can be characterised as a mixture of jazz and world music. “The quintet is more colourful than the trio,” shares Paceo. “As we have a big panel of instruments, we can change the instrumentation on each song.” For their performances in India, the group will focus on music from their successful self-titled 2012 album, as well as new music composed especially for the tour. While most of the music is purely instrumental, there are some songs in which Paceo’s voice features as ‘another instrument’, as well as the song Smile, in which she sings. “It’s a very important song for me, and the first I’ve written with lyrics. I’m curious to see how the audience in India will react to it!” she concludes.

Free entry. September 20, 7.30 pm. At Museum Theatre, Egmore. Details: madras.afindia.org

—Maegan Dobson Sippy